‘Tis the season for giving, and in a year unlike any most of us have lived so far, it’s especially important to do so. Or, if you’re not as fortunate this year to be able to give, we would like to remind everyone that there is no shame in seeking help when you need it.
On Lopez, Orcas and San Juan, each island offers a multitude of opportunities to flex your philanthropic muscles. Children, animals, the environment and families alike are all provided for by one or more of the community’s many nonprofit organizations.
Below, we highlight just a few of the many organizations on the islands you can donate your money or time to, but there are so many more that are equally as worthy of your attention. We encourage readers to support the nonprofits below or any of the others located in our community.
• The islands’ member-owned power company, Orcas Power and Light Cooperative, offers a service known as Project PAL, which helps people afford to pay their electricity bill each month. Donations to this program are accepted through both OICF and SJICF as well as on the co-op’s website.
For more information, visit https://www.opalco.com/about-your-account/energy-assistance-program/project-pal/.
• COVID-19 has been hard on everyone. For some, an increased time at home has been more of a curse than a blessing.
One in four women and one in 10 men will experience some sort of violence from an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. That violence can be physical, emotional, sexual or psychological.
According to San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs, more than half of the major crimes committed in San Juan County involve domestic violence.
While the jury is still out on whether the pandemic has increased the incidents of violence in the country overall, there are some communities reporting that they have experienced an increase in calls during the pandemic.
For islanders who are experiencing abuse from a domestic partner or family member, there’s SAFE San Juans. SAFE provides services and resources for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Donate to SAFE to help it continue its mission of helping domestic and sexual abuse survivors in San Juan County.
For more information about SAFE San Juans, visit https://safesj.org/. If you need SAFE’s assistance, you can call one of its 24/7 helplines 360-378-2345 for San Juan; 360-376-1234 on Orcas; or 360-468-4567 on Lopez.
• The islands are a sanctuary for those who love the environment and leading the charge in protecting the ecology of the area is Friends of the San Juans. This nonprofit environmental advocacy group has been around since 1979 and seeks to preserve and protect the land and sea for generations to come.
Learn more about Friends of the San Juans by visiting its website, https://sanjuans.org/.
• Lopez Island Family Resource Center is small but mighty. The nonprofit focuses on providing advocacy services, building resilience and creating opportunity. LIFRC runs the island’s food bank and provides dairy, eggs, soup, bread, produce and a wide variety of other non-perishable goods once a week, provides homecooked meals to Lopezians, and works with other community organizations to offer home delivery services.
To learn more about LIFRC, visit https://lifrc.org/ or call 360-468-4117.
• Though technically countywide, Kwiáht on Lopez Island is a nonprofit conservation biology laboratory with the goal of providing scientific research and good stewardship.
For more information, visit http://www.kwiaht.org/.
• The Orcas Island Community Foundation just wrapped its annual GiveOrcas Campaign, with 437 donors providing $99,885 to 17 Orcas Island programs. The foundation takes donations year-round and distributes the funds to the island nonprofit of the donor’s choice of more than 100 funds. OICF funds include Community Emergency Response; senior housing; LGBT support; the Music Advocacy Group; and more.
For more information bout OICF, visit https://oicf.us/ or call 360-376-6423.
• The Funhouse Commons has spent the time its been unable to host its typical events and gatherings for children, providing a safe, nurturing place for local students to participate in their online education while their parents worked.
While COVID may be keeping the Funhouse doors closed for now, but the organization just celebrated 20 years and is showing no sign of ceasing to entertain and educate island children.
Learn more about the Funhouse by visiting https://www.funhousecommons.org/ or call 360-376-7177.
• With many people out of work due to the pandemic, some often wonder where their next meal may come from. The Orcas Island Food Bank offers twice-weekly pick-up dates for islanders.
Monetary donations are the most helpful to the food bank as it can purchase fresh food for its clients. Additionally, the food bank is always seeking volunteers.
• Orcas Island Senior Center has really stepped up to the plate to help the islands’ aging population amid COVID providing hundreds of meals to home-bound community elders each week.
Learn more about the Senior Center by visiting https://www.orcasseniors.org.
• Located at Island Market earlier this month was the Orcas Island Resource Center’s Giving Tree trimmed with a plethora of gift requests for Orcas Island Children. That is just one of the many programs and services provided by OCRC.
Learn more by visiting https://orcascrc.org/ or calling 360-376-3184.
• The San Juan Island Community Foundation represents more than 40 funds for the community. As of Dec. 14, SJICF has granted more than $200,000 to various community organizations from its emergency response fund since April 1.
For more information, visit https://sjicf.org.
• As with the family resource centers on Lopez and Orcas, the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center on San Juan Island is there to connect community members to resources, provide direct services and create opportunities.
For more information, visit http://sjifrc.org/ or call 360-378-5246.
• While the Friday Harbor Food Bank has recently focused its energy on encouraging community members to utilize its services, the nonprofit still could always use donations from those who are able to provide them. The food bank offers three opportunities to pick up food as well as offering a new online ordering service.
For more information, visit https://fridayharborfoodbank.weebly.com/.
• IslandRides, formerly the Roundtowner, has recently expanded to include Lopez in its service area. This nonprofit organization provides free or low-cost rides to seniors, people with disabilities and others who may lack a car or do not drive. The nonprofit hopes to expand to Orcas Island.
For more information, visit islandrides.org; to book a ride, call 360-298-6108 on San Juan or 360-317-3107 on Lopez.